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Canada: Another winter of headaches for Manitoba potato growers

Manitoba potato growers are facing the inevitable result of a second extremely challenging digging season â€” elevated losses in storage.

Wet weather in September and early October kept producers out of the fields, while a three-day snowstorm over the Thanksgiving weekend dropped upwards of 75 centimetres of snow in areas of south-central Manitoba, followed by yet more precipitation.

Just 60 to 65 per cent of Manitoba’s potatoes had been harvested as of Oct. 9, the Keystone Potato Producers Association said at the time.

All that combined to mean that much of Manitoba’s 2019 potato harvest went into storage in less than ideal condition, according to Keystone Potato Producers Association manager Dan Sawatzky.

“It’s tough dealing with compromised product,” Sawatzky said. “There’s only so much you can do with high levels of rot.”

Producers are trying to limit the time they spend holding potatoes to help mitigate spoilage, Sawatzky added.

The higher storage temperatures usually required for processing potatoes are doing little to avoid spoilage, retired potato agronomist Leonard Rossnagel noted.

“The organisms that are contributing to breakdown also like those warmer temperatures, so growers are in a bit of a bind,” he said. Some producers are dropping their bunker temperatures in an effort to stave off rot in frozen potatoes, he said, but that comes at a cost too.

Full report by Manitoba Co-operator here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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